Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve
Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is situated in southwestern Uganda Bushenyi district, approximately 375km from Kampala the Capital City. Covering an area of 147km2 under the management of the National Forest Authority. It is a natural forest close to the most visited park Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Maramagambo Forest.
This is another home for the Chimpanzees in Uganda besides the primate capital of the world Kibale Forest National Park and Kyambura Gorge, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee S and Budongo Forest. 40 Chimpanzees were habituated in Kalinzu by Japanese researchers 2 years ago and are ready to receive visitors.
The Forest endowed with a variety of wildlife ranging from 414 Species of trees, 378 Species of Birds, six different Species of Primates; Blue Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, Vervet monkeys baboons, and Chimpanzees, 262 Butterflies, 97 Moths, Reptiles and Flowers. The nocturnal animals; galago and potto. Due to its closeness to the park, some large animals can be rarely spotted in the forest like Lions, warthogs, antelopes, leopards, and buffaloes
ACTIVITIES DONE IN KALINZU CENTRAL FOREST RESERVE
Chimpanzees are unique interesting creatures said to be the close cousin to humans sharing 98% of their DNA. They have almost the same characteristics and behavior as humans except they do not talk but just hoot or scream. The forest records about 300 chimps, Chimpanzee trekking rewards you a wonderful experience with the primates second to Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The cost of a chimpanzee permit in Kalinzu forest is $50. This is far less than the $150 charged in Kibale National Park. Chimpanzee permits can be booked at the reception Centre of the reserve or more conveniently through Engagi Safaris. It is divided into two sessions; morning and afternoon, the morning sessions start as early as 8:00 am so as to catch up with the chimps before they leave their nests in search of food and water. The afternoon session starts at 3:00 pm where you will find them going about their day to day activities. This activity is strictly for a person above the age of 15 years and only 8 people are allowed to trek a particular group. It is a guided activity, you will be assigned a knowledgeable and professional ranger guide who will take you in the forest and answer any questions. The activity takes about 2-4 hours as you search for the chimpanzees, while trekking into the forest you will also have a chance to see some birds, monkeys, baboons, and butterfly. On encountering the chimps, you will be allowed to spend 1 hour in their presence, take some pictures (without flashlight) for remembrance and then return.
The forest lies at an altitude of 14000m above sea level, it has well-marked trails such as Valley trail, palm trail, river trail, and waterfall trail. Explore the forest and you will be rewarded with mesmerizing scenic views open up over the Ruwenzori Mountains, Lake Edward, the Kazinga Channel, and DR Congo. Visit the “old man of the hills” which gives you a clear view of the forest canopy. You will also encounter some animals, birds, butterflies and see different tree species found in the forest.
As earlier mentioned, the forest records about 378 bird species which makes it a birders’ haven. This activity is suitable in the morning hours; some of the birds you will spot include: the Black and White Casket, Cuckoos, Great Blue Turaco and Sunbirds. During bird watching, you will encounter some animals like primates, elephants, warthogs, buffaloes just to mention but a few.
This is one of the new growing tourist activity in Uganda, Kalinzu is one of the spots for butterfly species over 292 are recorded. It is advisable to do this activity in the morning and evening during the rainy season, many butterflies are seen after the rains in cool spots
Since the forest is located near Queen Elizabeth National Park there are some animals that usually visit the forest, you can get an opportunity to see them while on a game viewing activity.
RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION EDUCATION CENTRE
Kalinzu Forest is a significant research Centre for medicinal plants and chimpanzees. Quite a number of researchers visit the forest to carry out different studies in and around the forest. It is also a case study center for forestry students.
There is a campsite at the forest Station at Nkombe. Camping in Kalinzu is an interesting activity, you will be right in the middle of nature, listening to the nocturnal animals and birds sound, see some elephants looming in the forest. You are advised to carry a tent.
Kalinzu Central Forest can be visited all year round however the best time to visit is during the dry season of June to September and December to February. It is easy to trek in the forest and to see the primates
It is approximately 375 km 5 hour’s drive from Kampala using Masaka-Mbarara Highway. 1 and a half hours from Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Feel free to combine Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu with your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and get unforgettable primate experience
The forest has informal structures, there is a campsite where you are expected to carry a tent. However, you can find moderate accommodation facilities in nearby towns like Bushenyi and Mbarara